Team GB’s Laura Kenny and Katie Archibald rode a near-perfect race at Tokyo 2020 to win the Madison, the first time the event has been held at the Olympics.
The British pair, wairing flourescent yellow helmets with a red stripe to make each other easy to pick out in the bunch, won 10 of the 12 sprints as they dominated the race from start to finish, Kenny picking up the fifth Olympic gold medal of her career, and Archibald her second.
The Team GB duo had already won three of the first four sprints to open up a four point lead when Kirsten Wild of the Netherlands, partnering Amy Pieters with whom she has won the past two world championships in the event, was sent crashing to the track.
The crash happened as the Dutch pair prepared to handsling, an Australian rider coming between them, and as she lay on the track Wild was also hit by Belgium’s Lottie Kopecky, who had been on her wheel.
The race was controlled throughout by Archibald and Kenny, who revealed afterwards that in the absence of competition over the past 18 months the pair had honed their plan for the Madison by racing against Great Britain’s under-23 and junior men’s teams.
With 20 points available to any pair lapping the field, the pair needed to be alert to any attacks and when one country – France – did get away after the seventh of the 12 sprints, Archibald responded to the move, picking up yet more sprint points the next time they became available.
By then, with the lap counter ticking down and the Team GB pair continuing to extend their lead, the focus of their rivals switched to the battle for silver and bronze.
It was the Danish pair of Amelie Dideriksen and Julie Leth who clinched silver after gaining a lap late on, their total of 35 points less than half the 78 amassed by the winners with the British riders also picking up 20 points by following that move.
Gulnaz Khatuntseva and Mariia Novolodskaia, riding for the Russian Olympic Committee team, took bronze with 26 points, five ahead of Wild and Pieters of the Netherlands in fourth place.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.